Chapter 22 - Nicolas and Otto

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"Check all the corpses. With any luck, they still have their weapons and armor in one piece. And if there's anyone alive, you know what to do," Nicolas said after the water was gone and they could see the valleys between the hills.

All that was left was a trail of destruction and death.

The leader of the forest's bandits didn't move.

"If the army comes back, my people will die," he said in a low and neutral voice, doing his best to not seem as if contradicting the former Sword of the King. "We don't have the fog now. We need to get out of here now."

Nicolas stared the short man, analyzing his new companion.

For a moment Tetsuko felt the killing intent. The other man did too. But didn't hesitate.

But then it vanished as soon as it had appeared.

"Don't worry, Otto. They won't come back. Not so soon. And not this army," he said, looking down at the vale where a few dead people laid near where they were. "If Enrique survived, he'll be looking for this instead of trying to kill your people."

He jerked his head to the unconscious noble.

It's true, the soul in the sword thought. If Enrique is alive, he'll probably think Alonso got caught in the water... I doubt he'll think Alonso was captured... no one saw...

She turned to her wielder. His black hair was soaked with blood.

That blow to his head was heavy... it'll take some time for him to wake up... especially adding his previous injuries. And when he wakes up, he'll be a prisoner...

The soul in the sword turned her attention back to the man responsible for that. It can't be a coincidence his energy is just as twisted as Lucky Chaos... They're the practically the same...

But how can he be involved in this? Did he plan this before suggesting the plans to Alonso? Did he inform Nicolas after? Why would he do this?

Tetsuko didn't know those answers. But there was one thing she knew.

Just like my wielder predicted... Lucky Chaos ended up being his ruin...

Otto still hesitated to give the order to his bandits.

"We both need more weapons," Nicolas went on, trying to convince the other bandit leader. "After this, the King won't be able to turn a blind eye at me anymore. And now you're involved."

"I never wanted this!" Otto shouted, attracting glances of the nearest people. Despite the height difference, the leader of the forest's bandits didn't let himself be intimidated.

Nicolas stood in his full height, looking down at the other man.

"It doesn't matter if you wanted or not. You're a part of this. Remember, you came to me," he said in a cold voice.

Otto pressed his lips and lowered his head. He clenched his fist so hard it was trembling. Then, in a frustrated voice, he ordered his subordinate to go down and pick up anything useful they could find and kill any survivors.

Nicolas flashed a smile that had no joy in it. "Good, my new partner."

Despite not being used to scavengers' work, the bandits collected enough weapons and armor to make up for all the equipment they left at the forest.

Nicolas seemed satisfied.

"Good. Now let's go back and celebrate!" he shouted.

Some cheered with him, but most remained quiet.

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